Home / Knowledge / News / Apparel/Garments / Finnish scientists find way to upcycle clothes
Finnish scientists find way to upcycle clothes
04
Apr '17
Courtesy: ACS
Courtesy: ACS
Recycling and even upcycling clothes may soon be possible. This has been shown by scientists in Finland. The development will go a long way in addressing environmental concerns associated with fashion industry. Making and dyeing clothes creates pollution. But, advent of 'fast fashion', clothes which are disposed after use, has worsened the scene. 
 
The project was funded by the European Union's Trash-2-Cash project and the Finnish government.
 
"People don't want to spend much money on textiles anymore, but poor-quality garments don't last. A small amount might be recycled as cleaning rags, but the rest ends up in landfills, where it degrades and releases carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. Also, there isn't much arable land anymore for cotton fields, as we also have to produce food for a growing population," Simone Haslinger, a doctoral candidate at Aalto University in Finland, explains. 
 
Though some efforts are already underway for recycling, such as take-back programmes, only a small percentage gets recycled. Other initiatives shred used clothing and incorporate the fibres into carpets or other products. But these carpets will also ultimately end up in landfills, according to Haslinger.
 
A better strategy is to upcycle worn-out garments. "We want to not only recycle garments, but we want to really produce the best possible textiles, so that recycled fibres are even better than native fibres," says Herbert Sixta, who heads the biorefineries research group at Aalto University. But achieving this is not simple because cotton and other fibres are often blended with polyester in fabrics such as 'cotton-polyester blends', which complicates processing.
 
Previous research had showed that many ionic liquids can dissolve cellulose. But the resulting material could not be re-used to make new fibres. 
 
It was Sixta's team about five years ago which found an ionic liquid - 1,5-diazabicyclo[4.3.0]non-5-ene acetate - that could dissolve cellulose from wood pulp, producing a material that could be spun into fibres. Later testing showed that these fibres were stronger than commercially available viscose and similar to lyocell, also known by the brand name Tencel, a fibre favoured by eco-conscious designers because it is made of wood pulp.
 
Building on this process, the researchers wanted to see if they could apply the same ionic liquid to cotton-polyester blends. In this case, the different properties of polyester and cellulose worked in their favour, Haslinger says. They were able to dissolve the cotton into a cellulose solution without affecting the polyester.
 
"I could filter the polyester out after the cotton had dissolved. Then it was possible without any more processing steps to spin fibres out of the cellulose solution, which could then be used to make clothes," Haslinger says. 
 
The team is now testing whether the recovered polyester can also be spun back into usable fibres. In addition, the researchers are working to scale up the whole process and are investigating how to reuse dyes from discarded clothing.
 
But, after a certain point, commercialising the process does not just require chemical know-how. "We can handle the science, but we might not know what dye was used, for example, because it's not labelled. You can't just feed all the material into the same process. Industry and policymakers have to work on the logistics. With all the rubbish piling up, it is in everyone's best interest to find a solution," Sixta notes. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India


Must ReadView All

Pic: Shutterstock

Textiles | On 28th Jan 2021

Global FDI fell by 42% in 2020, outlook weak: UNCTAD

Uncertainty over the pandemic's evolution and the global investment...

Pic: Shutterstock

Apparel/Garments | On 28th Jan 2021

3.5 lakh Bangla RMG workers lost jobs during pandemic

Around 350,000 garment workers in Bangladesh lost jobs during the...

Pic: American Eagle Outfitters

Retail | On 28th Jan 2021

AEO targets revenues worth $5.5 bn in FY23

American Eagle Outfitters is aiming at revenues worth $5.5 billion...

Interviews View All

Siddharth Biyani, Mangalam Industries Pvt Ltd

Siddharth Biyani
Mangalam Industries Pvt Ltd

‘The manufacturing sector is improving day-by-day, becoming better in...

Abhishek Samdaria, Reflete

Abhishek Samdaria
Reflete

GST will certainly reduce a lot of paperwork in future

Shawn Honeycutt, Bolger & O'Hearn

Shawn Honeycutt
Bolger & O'Hearn

‘The Indian market is interesting and rather persistent in seeking new...

Matthias Eilert,

Matthias Eilert

Germany-based Forbo Movement Systems division is a global leader in...

Wolfgang Muller,

Wolfgang Muller

Mayer & Cie is a leading global manufacturer of circular knitting...

Himanshu Fogla,

Himanshu Fogla

Jumac, pioneers in spinning can manufacturing in India, was founded in...

Suresh Patel, Sidwin Fabric

Suresh Patel
Sidwin Fabric

Sidwin Fabric is a manufacturer and exporter of polypropylene textiles and ...

Ray Baughman, University of Texas -Dallas

Ray Baughman
University of Texas -Dallas

<div>A team of scientists and researchers have discovered twistrons,...

Urs Stalder, Sanitized AG

Urs Stalder
Sanitized AG

Urs Stalder, CEO, Sanitized AG, talks about the increasing use of hygiene...

Sarah Denise Cordery, Sarah Denise Studio

Sarah Denise Cordery
Sarah Denise Studio

Manchester, England-based Sarah Denise Studio provides relevant fashion...

Jay Ramrakhiani, Occasions Elegance Wear

Jay Ramrakhiani
Occasions Elegance Wear

It is believed that by early 19th century, Varanasi weavers had moved away ...

Robert Brunner, Devereux

Robert Brunner
Devereux

Golfwear and menswear brand Devereux is set for greener pastures. Robert...

Press Release

Press Release

Letter to Editor

Letter to Editor

RSS Feed

RSS Feed

Submit your press release on


editorial@fibre2fashion.com

Letter To Editor






(Max. 8000 char.)

Search Companies





SEARCH

Leave your Comments


January 2021

Subscribe today and get the latest update on Textiles, Fashion, Apparel and so on.


Advanced Search